By Rodetta Cook

Rodetta Cook has been a pastor’s wife for over 40 years. She and her husband, Ron, have actively served the Lord together in ministry during the entire time and are co-founders of Care for Pastors. She understands the expectations, loneliness and how hard it is to find balance in ministry as a pastor’s wife. Rodetta also leads the pastor’s wives initiative at Care for Pastors called The Confidante and ministers to hundreds of wives each week. She strives to share blogs with other pastors’ wives that will help them in their ministry walk.

    Is Saying “No” Okay in Ministry?

    Monday, November 06, 2023

    We don’t have to be a pastor’s wife very long to realize there are unrealistic expectations put on us every day from church members. But if we aren’t careful, we will start to put unrealistic expectations on ourselves. We want so bad to be the “Perfect Pastor’s Wife.” Can I tell you a secret? She does not exist! We are human like every person who sits in the congregation and we cannot do everything everyone thinks we should be doing.

    If you are new to the role of a pastor’s wife, can I suggest you start setting boundaries now? If you don’t it will be hard or impossible to set them later.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • You and your husband sit down and decide what your “calling” for this season of life looks like.
    • Remember to keep the proper order: God – Family – Church. And if this gets out of order, life is going to get unmanageable and miserable.
    • When someone tells you that you should be involved with a certain project or ministry, it is okay to say; “No that is not where God wants me serving right now.” Or you could say, “My husband and I have decided what I am involved with right now is where I am supposed to be serving during this season of life.”
    • Keep a shared calendar with your husband. Then when someone expects you to be at a party or event, you can look at your calendar and say, “I’m so sorry but we are busy that day.” This way you and your husband are on the same page because you have the shared calendar right in front of you, and don’t feel guilty. And they don’t have to know what you have on your calendar, all you have to say is we are busy that day.
    • And don’t you dare think you should change your plans to make them happy. If you do that, you will never have any family time or vacation because you will always be trying to please people.
    • It is not a sin to say “no!”
    • Make Sabbath day a priority.
    • Remember, the church does not own you.
    • If we don’t set boundaries early in ministry we are going to drive ourselves crazy trying to please everyone.
    • You are not Super Woman!

    If you have been in ministry for years and you haven’t learned to say “no” yet, I would suggest you start putting some of these things in place and stick to those boundaries. It is very difficult to draw boundaries when we have allowed people to put unrealistic expectations on us, but it is a must if we are going to finish well.

    I can’t tell you how many times I have heard pastors’ wives say, “My husband is married to the church.” Or, “The church has become the other woman.” If we don’t have healthy boundaries in place this is what will happen, then we can’t finish well. So these suggestions are for you and your husband. If your marriage is going to finish healthy and on solid ground, you cannot be married to the church.

    I know it sounds like I’m preaching and maybe I am a little, because I’ve been a pastor’s wife for 45 years and we weren’t always good about setting those boundaries. I don’t want to see you make the same mistakes.

    We are here to walk with you on this ministry journey. Please let us know how we can help you.

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